SRH Hochschule Heidelberg

“The worst part was the silence at the beginning of the war”

18 students from Ukraine are currently enrolled at SRH University Heidelberg. Two business law students told us how their journey here has been and how they are doing.

“I always dreamed of studying in Germany.” Iryna is 19 and had been studying at our partner university – Ivan Franko National University Lviv. Her dream came true sooner than planned: the war in Ukraine left her no time for long deliberations. She made her decision within a week, continuing her studies in business law at SRH University Heidelberg in April 2022. “There were huge bureaucratic requirements,” she recounted. Six different documents had to be filled out and officially recognised. The journey to Heidelberg was also arduous: “There were barriers everywhere in Ukraine, so it took some time to present the necessary documents. Since all the flights had been cancelled, I had no choice but to travel by bus. It took me more than 25 hours to get to Heidelberg.”

Sofiia had to wait a little longer to start her studies in Heidelberg. She, too, had been planning a study-abroad semester in Germany for a long time, after learning German at school and spending some time in Austria. Finally, in August, the 18-year-old also came to Heidelberg to study business law, and now feels very much at home here. “Of course we are very worried about our parents,” said the young Ukrainian. “We are not safe at home, but when we are far away, we have no control over the situation.” Currently, her fellow students in Lviv are mainly studying in person, necessitated by the power cuts in the country. “The situation is getting worse,” remarked Sofiia. But unlike Iryna, she also experienced the war situation for six months in her home country before coming to Germany. “We got used to it. We can shop, we have food. Only the silence at the beginning of the war – that was very scary, awful. But on the other hand, isn’t it terrible that we have already become accustomed to a life of war? And of course the situation in other regions of Ukraine is much worse.” Nevertheless, she says, people show a huge willingness to help each other in Ukraine. Even people who have lost everything support others “with all their heart and soul.”

“I love meeting new people,” smiled Iryna, who is now happy to be in Heidelberg and able to enjoy student life. She and Sofiia live on campus and are grateful for the “friendly, warm nature” of their fellow students and roommates. “They will always have a place in my heart,” she continued, noting that she has made many friends not only at SRH University Heidelberg, but also at Heidelberg University in the city. “The International Week in October was also a great chance to meet people from all over the world. Now I have invitations to Greece and Hungary!” Heidelberg is very similar to Lviv, Sofiia told us. The city in western Ukraine is larger, with a population of a million, but Heidelberg’s architecture is quite inviting, and reminds her of home. “I don’t feel homesick, because I am an adventurous person, I love to travel and explore the world!” Iryna confirmed. “But the war keeps intruding on our thoughts and always interferes. My mother keeps trying to reassure me, but in the end, no one is in control.”

Sofiia und Iryna studieren gerne an der SRH Hochschule Heidelberg.
Sofiia and Iryna feel very comfortable at SRH University Heidelberg.
18 Ukrainerinnen studieren aktuell an der SRH Hochschule Heidelberg. Im Science Garden der Hochschule halten sie die ukrainische Flagge hoch.
18 students from Ukraine are currently enrolled at SRH University Heidelberg. On the left: Bettina Pauley, Head of International Office, on the right: Prof Dr Markus Breuer, Vice President of SRH University Heidelberg.

Erasmus+ during coronavirus crisis

Through the Erasmus+ programme, the EU enables universities and colleges in Germany to support Ukrainian students with € 1,100 per month for up to one year. “The universities in Germany do not receive any extra financing for this, but they can use their normal Erasmus+ funding from their ongoing 2020–2022 projects for this purpose. Due to the coronavirus crisis, most universities and colleges have saved project funds that can now be put to good use,” explained Iris Ulbrich, Erasmus and Scholarship Coordinator at SRH University Heidelberg. SRH University Heidelberg is currently supporting 18 students from Ukraine via Erasmus+. “At the moment, however, we are unfortunately unable to accept any new students from Ukraine in this scholarship framework – it’s at full capacity,” Ulbrich noted.